There is one fundamental reason for much of the sorrow in our lives and that is the gap. The gap- between who I think I am and what others perceive me to be. This might be a confusing statement, but it sums up a most relevant truth that all of us need to be aware of nowadays.
Everyone has an image of oneself. A self-image. That image is our truth. We think, we assume and behave accordingly. But most of the times, this image is misleading. Right from early childhood, people around us view us from the perspective of their own intelligence and level of maturity. Their perspective is always colored by their own life experiences and the limits of their own intelligence or IQ.
Their judgments are formed from their own experiential vision and a person is slotted accordingly. An opinion is thus formed based on their subjective perception of the image presented to them by us. That image and perception is conveyed to us in different ways on various occasions. We blindly accept someone else’s estimation of our personality and take it to be the absolute truth. The result? Someone else’s opinion becomes my image of who I am.
We are always told who we are. We are never told to think about who we are, never told to evaluate ourselves during the course of various experiences, never told how to learn from our mistakes, how to clearly communicate our likes/dislikes, viewpoints and understanding of ourselves. We are always told who we are and we blindly accept that opinion. We are hardly ever given an opportunity to discover ourselves for ourselves.
On the contrary, we are told to think not of oneself but of others first. We are told that putting oneself before others is a bad and selfish thing to do. We are told very early on, that putting ourselves first before others in the family or society means that we are not a good person. This value judgment plays havoc with the understanding of one’s self worth. Looking after oneself and one’s own emotions, preferences and desires are always frowned upon as extreme self- indulgence. One is made to feel extremely guilty about loving oneself.
Therefore we live everyday on the basis of the image of ourselves that is imposed on us. An image that is formed for us by someone else- according to somebody else’s level of understanding and relying upon someone else’s rule -book. We live our lives by others’ opinion. And more often than not, this opinion is negative.
“ I can’t do this well, it’s not possible for me to do this, nobody can do this, so naturally neither can I. People like us shouldn’t try to venture to do this, I am not fit to do this…”
Such negative opinions about one’s own worth not only put obstacles in the path of self-growth, but also bring negativity into our daily routine and daily conversations. We slowly become pessimists.
We cannot love ourselves unless we understand and respect ourselves. A person who has no self-respect cannot respect anyone else. The probability is very slim. If two people who have not known how to love themselves, get married, it becomes a recipe for a marriage of competition. He will continuously strive to prove himself better and superior to her. And vice versa- to prove “I am right.” In such a competitive environment love quickly disappears.
In contrast, a person who knows and accepts oneself for who he or she is, can love herself/himself. Such a person can understand his/her limitations and also has the strength to overcome them.
So the question that we are often confronted with is-:
Who am I really? Has society created the ‘me’ who I think I am?
We need to introspect. We need also to show our children the need for introspection. We must show our children how to set aside a few minutes each day to introspect, understand and learn to love. Let us teach our kids to love themselves and so love us.
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